Betty A. Leonard, 91, Silver Spring, Maryland died Nov. 11, 2020 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. Betty was born Nov. 19, 1928 in Leavenworth, Kansas, the daughter of Albert R. Hodapp and Helen Elaine Fullam. She grew up in Leavenworth and graduated from Immaculata High School in 1946. She then attended St. Mary’s College and graduated with honors.
Betty was born of what today is known as the “Greatest Generation” and over her long and fulfilling life she personified the best of that generation’s traits. She was hard working, self-sufficient, dedicated first and foremost to family and country and devoted until death to her Catholic faith. Growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, she was forged by tragedy three times before graduating from High School. Her father died before her first birthday from battle injuries and gassing suffered in WW I. Her older brother, Albert, was killed in action at age 19 during WW II. He was one of that War’s last casualties and had been in combat only a few weeks before his death. And Betty’s older sister, Elaine, an Army wife of a WW II combat veteran, died at the close of WW II at the age of 23.
Throughout all of this Betty steeled herself with faith, hope and an undying devotion to her surviving mother. In the ensuing years, including two marriages, she chose to inspire those around her with optimism, love of life and grounded expectation that the best was always yet to come. She was and still is an inspiration, a role model of positivity. Her whole life was one of service, one of tireless grace and compassion. She was a bedrock of strength, a steadfast north star for navigating and living a full and meaningful life.
Betty pursued a professional career as a civil servant working for the Army beginning at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in the 1950’s which culminated in her retirement years later in Washington, DC. It was at Fort Leavenworth that she met Colonel Charles E. Sullivan, Jr. USAF, a widower with four school age children. Married in 1961, they eventually relocated to Alexandria, Virginia. Charles died in 1977. Betty later married Norman A. Leonard, an extremely successful career FBI agent. Norm too was a widower with a family of six children. Betty and Norm were married for 14 years before his passing in 1992.
For the next almost 30 years Betty lived independently, but she was never alone. She surrounded herself with all her children, most of whom had their own growing families. While she was the biological mother to none of them, she was Mom to them all. She rededicated herself to her faith and especially to her local parish, St. Catherine Laboure in Silver Spring. She attended daily mass and volunteered where and whenever possible to ensure the parish flourished. She was a Eucharist Minister, member of the Sodality and the Fun Bunch. For over 30 years she served as a regular driver for and active supporter of Meals on Wheels. She was an excellent bridge player, and treasured the many friendships made playing bridge over the years.
Betty lived a life that epitomizes what it means to give.
Survivors include her son Jim Leonard and his wife Becky; daughter Sue Leonard; son Bob Leonard and his wife Carol; son John Leonard; daughter Kathleen and her husband Dave Hopkins, and Cynthia Mirabile. Among her surviving Leonard family are 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Survivors among her Sullivan family include son Michael Sullivan and his wife Pam; son Jack and his wife Ellen; and daughter Renee and her husband George Goodwin. A son, Chuck, who predeceased Betty, was killed on active duty flying for the USAF. His widow, Lorrie, survives. Sullivan survivors also include seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Private services are planned. Condolences may be sent to www.collinsfuneralhome.com.
Posted online on November 13, 2020